Wednesday, June 5, 2019


Today, we're talking to Unearthed contributor James Bojaciuk, writer of the short story "An Egyptian Cameo." James is also CEO Duobus of 18th Wall Productions, and his expertise was indispensable in bringing Unearthed to print!

Altrix Books: What about the Unearthed concept made you want to pitch a story?

James Bojaciuk: Archaeology was my first love. Before publishing, even before writing, I wanted to be an archaeologist - and whatever influence Indiana Jones may have had to one side, a serious archaeologist. If it weren't for some problems in the field that made it unlikely I could have gotten a job, I still would have gone for it. Add to that, Kara Dennison was responsible for the collection. I wanted to work with her again, after she'd written my favorite story in Stranger Tales of the City. Because we had no direct contact while working on the book, I especially looked forward to working with her directly.

Altrix: Tell us a little about your story.

Bojaciuk: Archaeology is never easy. Particularly not in the late Victorian era. Particularly when you're surrounded by bandits intent on making sure the pharaoh's gold goes anywhere except a museum. A little girl's photography hobby - as well as one of the greatest master thieves, currently dead - find an unusually photogenic solution.

Altrix: What books, shows, or real life events inspired your work?

Bojaciuk: A Raffles story could only be inspired by E.W. Hornung's Raffles the Amateur Cracksman. A Victorian/Edwardian gentleman thief, Raffles is one of the more enduring creations of the era. But he isn't always what we should expect of a "gentleman" thief. His early stories are much more what we should expect: a relatively pure, if sometimes cruel, man who steals for the thrill. The first collection ended with Raffles' death. Like Holmes, he returned, but things were not the same. The later collection - The Black Mask - is a wonderful example of early noir/hard-boiled. This story takes place between his apparent death and resurrection; we see how the man he was becomes the man he would be, deadened and desperate.

There literally would be no story without Ernie Smith's Tedium. In "Point, Shoot, and Forget" he discusses the history of disposable cameras, including the Victorian Ready Fotografer (among other spellings). Barely a machine at all, it was glass plates, rough cardboard, and film in a contraption just advanced enough to call a camera. I was immediately charmed by it, both for being one more device putting the lie to "Victorians would have thought any modern invention was black magic" and for its qualities as a camera itself. The entire story emerged from this piece.

I owe much to Jason Thompson. Without his Wonderful Things: A History of Egyptology (particularly volume 2), this story would have been impossible. William Flinders Petrie, and his digs, were presented clear as life with every detail and quote I could need.

Altrix: What was the most challenging part of creating your story?

Bojaciuk: I had intended to present an exacting, detailed version of one of Petrie's real digs. Chronologies of his work got in the way. During the period where Raffles would have been in Egypt, it's seemingly unclear which site Petrie worked. Petrie himself was a remarkable record keeper, but these were also some of his less extensively-covered digs (I can't help but suspect it was due to his break with the Egyptian Exploration Fund around this time). Thus, we were left with a vague dig. However, details of the dig and camp life are all accurate. We have only unpinned this dig from a concrete location.

Altrix: Where else can our readers find your work?

Bojaciuk: As CEO Duobus of the award-winning publishing house 18thWall Productions, I can always be found at

Order your copy of Unearthed from Altrix Books!


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